Science & Technology

NASA funds three companies to develop commercial space stations

NASA announced the selection of three US companies that can obtain authorities funding to additional develop non-public space stations on Thursday. From a set of 11 proposals, NASA chosen Blue Origin, Nanoracks LLC, and Northrop Grumman to obtain over $400 million in federal funds via three separate Space Act Agreements.

NASA began seeking proposals in July for its Commercial Low Earth Orbit Growth (CLD) program, which goals to help the event of commercial space stations. It is part of an even bigger plan to ultimately substitute the Worldwide Space Station (ISS) with commercial space stations. By way of this mannequin, NASA can be a buyer of the commercial space business, permitting it to save on prices and deal with fundamental analysis and exploration.

Blue Origin is ready to obtain $130 million to develop Orbital Reef, a free-flying space station idea the corporate first announced in October. Orbital Reef is being developed in partnership with Sierra Space, maker of the winged spaceplane Dream Chaser. Blue Origin says the station will likely be operational by the second half of the last decade.

Nanoracks LLC is receiving $160 million for its Starlab station idea. Additionally introduced in October, Starlab is a collaboration with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin. Designed to maintain up to 4 astronauts and conduct superior analysis on biology, supplies science and extra, Starlab is focused for launch in 2027 on a single flight, in accordance to the NASA press launch.

Northrop Grumman’s $125.6 million award will give it the chance to develop a commercial space station utilizing current applied sciences like its Cygnus spacecraft, which presently ferries cargo to the ISS. Northrop is working with Dynetics on its idea for a modular space station, with different companions to be introduced sooner or later.

Axiom Space, a Houston firm that was the first awarded funds in January 2020 to develop its commercial module to be added to the ISS, stated in a statement on Twitter that it didn’t bid to obtain one of many CLD awards.

In accordance to NASA, the awards are the primary a part of a two-phase method to guarantee a easy transition to commercial stations in LEO.

The primary section, anticipated to proceed via 2025, will enable the grant recipients to create a plan and designs that meet each non-public sector and authorities wants. Throughout the second section, NASA needs to certify these stations for human astronauts to use and, finally, begin utilizing them.

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